The SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team completed a four-game sweep of the SEABA qualifying tournament for the FIBA Asia Cup after whipping host Thailand, 74-52, Saturday in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
With the win, SMART-Gilas clinched the lone berth for the Southeast Asian region to the FIBA Asia Cup to be held in Tokyo, Japan in September.
The Filipinos, behind Garvo Lanete and Chris Tiu opened a huge advantage early, leading 41-15 by halftime, and cruised the rest of the way. Lanete had 10 points in the first two periods while Tiu added nine.
Not that there weren’t any tense moments after the break. Thailand, coached by Kobe Bryant’s father “Jellybean” Joe Bryant, opened the fourth quarter with a 13-5 run to cut the Philippines’ lead down to just 17 with over five minutes to play in the game.
But the nationals closed the game strong, pushing the lead back up to over 20 points before the final buzzer.
Lanete, Tiu, naturalized center Marcus Douthit and Sonny Thoss all finished in double-figures for SMART-Gilas.
In the FIBA Asia Cup, the Philippines will be grouped with China, Lebanon, Macau and the representative from the Central Asia Basketball Association. The other group will be composed of Iran, Chinese Taipei, Qatar, Japan and the qualifier from the South Asian Basketball Association.
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